Standing in the Gap: Informing Advocates for African American Male Youth in Underdeveloped Communities Open Access
Royster, Michael D. (Spring 2018)
Within the discipline of practical theology there exists a need for the “Black Church” and other churches that have a significant young African American male presence either as members, attendees, or in the surrounding community to seek ways to improve addressing the specific needs of such groups as collectively marginalized members of society stigmatized by race and its accompanying conditions of relative deprivation. Drawing from the wisdom and experiences of informing advocates such as a parent, educator, coach, neighbor, and legal practitioner, the given study indicates that groups provide vital knowledge for clergy, officers, and others who occupy leadership positions. The respondent’s findings provide insight for the church to identify its shortcomings in reaching adolescent and pre-adolescent African males through the various practical ministries. Although Porter Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in a rural and underdeveloped community serves as the context of the given study, there exists some applicability beyond the given local church which includes urban underdeveloped congregations and communities where persistent poverty prevails. Communal wisdom provides the church with a glimpse of missing elements needed for effective preaching, teaching, pastoral and lay consulting with the subjects of study within and beyond the congregation as cultural characteristics tend to continuously evolve intergenerationally. Young African American men from rural and underdeveloped communities face distinct challenges that requires an understanding of the generational divide rather than a reliance on assumptions and common sense. The “street codes” which have been historically associated with inner cities also apply to rural communities requiring subjects to appropriately switch codes. Institutional objectives of the “Black Church” with a social justice agenda entails equipping its congregants to become agents of antiviolence often within the context of a contrary code with structural barriers combined, safeguarding the prophetic tradition, and youth empowerment for that which elders’ sense lies ahead. The Civil Rights Movement has provided a template for latter social movements which embrace some aspect of antiviolence and a frame for the prophetic voice for educational and mentoring purposes along with appropriate biblical proclamation.
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